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Posted by on Apr 3, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Politics | 2 comments

My Thoughts on Noah’s Ark and The Great Flood

 

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Istanbul, Turkey in 1996

 

Between 1993 and 1999, most of my workdays were spent inside the Turkish Embassy, in Washington, D.C.

Typical duties consisted of writing and editing official correspondance.  To this day, most foreign missions along Embassy Row hire at least one native-English speaker.  This is because the language used in diplomatic communications must be positively precise.  The wrong word in the wrong place at the wrong time can be misunderstood, triggering unintended consequences.

I was also fortunate enough to be assigned to the public information office during that time.  This put me into direct contact with many of Americans who needed assistance with something or someone in the Republic of Turkey.  You can’t even imagine some of the inquiries we received.

Reminiscing now, I look back fondly on those six years.  What a wonderful experience that was.  The Turkish diplomatic corps and embassy staff were always kind to me.  Not only were they thoroughly professional at all times, they were also lots of fun to be around.  I shall always have a soft spot in my heart for the Turks.

Insallah.

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Posted by on Mar 31, 2014 in Blog, Politics, Talking Points, Video 1 | 12 comments

The Debut of “Talking Points with Nolan Dalla” — Episode 1 on Writing, Media, Sheldon Adelson, Politics, and Campaign Finance

 

 

Today, I’m trying out a new idea.  I’d really like your feedback.

Seriously.

Several people suggested that I try creating a video edition of my daily rants and writings.  In other words, instead of writing an essay, instead just step in front of a camera and start talking.

Well, I decided to give this a try.

No script.  No plan.  No agenda.  Just talk.

What follows is an unrehearsed and unedited clip that runs a ridiculously long 32 minutes.  I decided to call it “Talking Points,” although from my rambling I often don’t seem to have one.  A point, I mean.

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2014 in Blog, Personal, Politics, Travel | 7 comments

My Experience of Getting Detained by the National Security Agency

 

NSA-Entrance

This is the only photo I can legally show you of my recent visit to the National Security Agency.

 

Three flaps of a starlet’s wing off the Baltimore-Washington Parkway, peering over and above the surrounding treetops of piney woods nestled in the rolling Maryland countryside, there’s an ugly rectangular building tiled in grey-mirrored glass.

Several buildings actually.  They’re grouped into one ominous compound, almost in circle-the-wagons mode, purposely secluded from the outside world and walled off by high-fences topped with razor-wire, ringed by heavily-patroled parking lots with late model vehicles driven by black-ops bureaucrats.

It’s them versus the world.  Within their universe, everyone is a suspect.  All are potential enemies, even those who walk in and out of those ugly rectangular buildings every single day.  No one is trusted.

Every movement within and around the compound is monitored by non-stop surveillance.  All the time.  Everywhere.  And — those suspicious eyes and nosy ears extend way beyond just the piney woods.  They know what we do.  They know what we say.  They know what we write.  They know what we text.  All this leads to speculation about what’s coming next — will they ultimately know that we think? 

This place has no visitors.  This place doesn’t welcome guests.  This place might as well not exist at all.  Aside from the towers and wires and otherwordly white domes, those ugly grey buildings might otherwise blend in well with the broader and more expansive federal quilt of the national security and defense establishment which has come to blanket (some would say suffocate) the greater National Capital area, a mammath region of three states growing by the month which now stretches from just south of Baltimore all the way down some 50 miles south through the District of Columbia, across the Potomac, into Northern Virginia and on to Triangle and Quantico — best known as the home of the U.S. Marine Corps, and what’s known in intelligence inner cicles as “The Farm.”  [See Footnote 1]

This is a complex of secrets and secrecy.  It’s an arena of perpetual paranoia.  It’s a regimented information labor camp where the loyal foot soldiers who come and go 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year, are the spookiest of spooks.  Not because they’re evil people.  Rather because they’re so extraordinarly knowledgable and powerful, and yet so ordinary.

Today’s superspy isn’t James Bond sitting at a Baccarat table sipping a martini.  He (and increasingly she) is a GS-11 civil servant wearing some cotton-polyester blend purchased on sale at Target with kids’ soccer games to attend on Saturdays.  This is what the national defense establishment has become — not massive armies of soldiers and tanks and navies of battleships — but countless anonymous faces toiling silently behind desks topped with the latest flatscreens who can change lives with a single mouseclick.

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Posted by on Mar 18, 2014 in Blog, General Poker, Politics | 7 comments

Senator Lindsey Graham Stonewalls Free Speech

 

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“Sure, I believe in freedom of speech — as long as everyone agrees with me.”

 

Apparently, U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham opposes free speech.  Consider what he did recently.

The two-term South Carolina Republican who’s up for re-election this year erased several written comments, which were recently posted on his Facebook page.  Some of the comments questioned the senior Senator’s expressed opposition to online poker’s legalization at the federal level.

Sen. Graham is certainly justified in removing comments which might be considered by most as either offensive or objectionable.  This includes defamatory remarks, profanity, and off-topic content.  However, virtually all the comments which appeared at his page were not defamatory, nor profane, nor off-topic.  To the contrary, they were cordial, thought-provoking, and very much on-topic.  Yet, Sen. Graham clearly doesn’t want any dissent when it comes to confronting opinions which differ from his own.

I find this beyond troubling.  In fact, I find it reprehensible.  These actions are unacceptable for an elected public official in a free society.

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Posted by on Mar 16, 2014 in Blog, Politics | 4 comments

Isolationism Redefined

 

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Traditionally defined as it applies to American foreign policy, isolationism means disengaging from international affairs.  It means reducing America’s overseas commitments.  It means decreasing international responsibilities in favor of domestic priorities.  Yet somehow along the way, isolationalism also become conflated with cowardice.

Why?

Given the excruciating costs of our last two wars — currently estimated at $6 trillion and climbing, or put into more painful terms $75,000 for every American household — we might expect that a majority of Americans would become increasingly weary of playing 24-hour night watchman constantly patroling every corner of the globe.  Moreoever, given America’s massive debt load and crumbling infrastructure, one would anticipate more Americans being in favor of realigning our priorities closer to home.  [See Footnote 1]

And that’s exactly what seems to be happening.  At long last.

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